Since 1992, and the release of his critically acclaimed ‘Between Dusk and Dreaming’, guitarist Brian Hughes has carved out an impressive career in contemporary jazz. Now, seven albums later and a parallel career performing and recording with vocalist Loreena McKennitt, Hughes is back with the excellent ‘Fast Train To A Quiet Place’. Given that Hughes writes, produces and performs throughout, it is a CD that can be accurately described as ‘all his own work’ yet the exceptional support he receives from Matt Rohde on keys, Tal Bergman on drums and Rufus Philpot on bass all serves to add to the quality of this superb body of work.
‘Fast Train To A Quiet Place’ opens with the appropriately titled ‘Fast Train’. Although it is the first single to be serviced to radio, this hugely evocative tune is best experienced in its meandering, album length, seven minute – fifteen second form while elsewhere, and with the tempo eased right down, the deliciously mellow ‘You & I’ proves to be entirely on the money.
The shuffling Latin attitude of ‘Gotcha’ affords a fine platform for Hughes cool playing and input from Rohde on the Hammond B3 gives the entire piece something of a retro quality. Later Hughes expands this Latin flavour for the dazzling ‘Café Sin Nombre’ and although ‘Super Tight’ is characterized by its funky groove, the distinctly oriental vibe of ‘The Gift’ owes much to Hughes fine playing on sitar.
The gospel tinged and guitar driven ‘Hallelujah’ shows off another dimension of Hughes’ virtuosity yet much the same can be said of ‘To A Quiet Place’ where his work on bouzouki is beauty personified. In similar vein is the decidedly sensual ‘Blanket Of Stars’ which benefits from a sultry beat and another of Rohde’s distinctive piano solos. It is without doubt one of the CD’s outstanding cuts but right up there with it (and a personal favourite) is the mellifluously zesty ‘Would You Like Fries With That My Dear’.
This sizzling track takes the concept of bossa nova to another level, allows Ron Powell on percussion to take centre stage and provides the perfect showcase for Hughes on guitar.
‘Fast Train To A Quiet Place’ is Brian Hughes first studio recording since 2003 and all indications are that it has been well worth the wait.